Like clockwork, the Call of Duty franchise has been a fixture of the first-person shooter genre with yearly installments for over a decade. And every year, the debate over which games in the series have stood the test of time rages on. So our in-office Call of Duty fans have once again pooled their collective thoughts to decide which entries deserve to be in the Top 10 spot.
This list is not based on IGN reviews scores, but they have been taken into consideration (check them all out in the slideshow below) along with overall quality, lasting impact, cultural influence, and complete presentation.
With that in mind, here are our picks for the greatest Call of Duty games of all time.
10. Call of Duty: WW2
While Call of Duty: WWII offered a surprisingly fast-paced and fun World War II experience, the boots-on-the-ground old-war setting didn’t resonate as much as we would have liked. But with an array engaging multiplayer modes, such as War and Prop Hunt, and a Zombies mode that returned to its terrifying horror roots, WW2 was a surprisingly solid offering. Even if it fell a little more on the “been there, done that” side. –Mark Medina
9. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Advanced Warfare brought Call of Duty into the future yet again with a blockbuster story campaign centered around an advanced military tech company that gives soldiers enhanced mobility via Exo Suits. While the enhanced mobility introduced by these suits was a welcome change in the campaign, the exo movements dramatically changed the formula of player-versus-player multiplayer. This drastic shift met mixed reception, and the advanced movement suit was ultimately removed in later entries in the series. –CJ Gibson
8. Call of Duty: Black Ops 3
Perhaps more than any other Call of Duty, Black Ops 3 wasn’t afraid to take risks. In multiplayer, Treyarch gave us wall running and specialist classes, which seemed like logical next steps in the increasingly futuristic Black Ops franchise. Despite the clunky new movement, the new inclusion of class-like Specialists gave us options to play how we wanted. With another dose of the now-equally ridiculous and difficult Zombies mode, Black Ops 3 really shined in its cooperative play. The opportunity to play with friends made up for a forgettable campaign with Zombies building on a formula that continues to draw in hordes of players. –Sydnee Goodman
7. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Modern Warfare 3 continued to push the series in a familiar direction.. The campaign wrapped up its predecessors’ storylines and the multiplayer doubled down on what Call of Duty fans had come to expect. Though it introduced new elements like weapon progression, proficiencies, and some other minor additions to the multiplayer suite, Modern Warfare 3 stuck to its guns (pun 100% intended). But that’s not to say continuing to do what the franchise did so well was necessarily a bad thing. –Sydnee Goodman
6. Call of Duty: World at War
World at War once again returned Call of Duty to the trenches and beaches of World War 2, this time with a mature twist. The bold reimagining of the classic CoD formula set the groundwork for Treyarch’s foray into what would become Black Ops, with its focus on a 4-player cooperative campaign, that in-the-trenches warfare feeling, and, of course, the introduction of Zombies – a post-credits Easter Egg that spawned the phenomenon. –Nick Limon
5. Call of Duty 2
Few games have had a campaign as hard-hitting as Call of Duty 2. If you purchased a launch Xbox 360, this was the game that defined the term “next-gen.”. Of course, by today’s standard, its graphics are dated, but the excellent sound design and moment-to-moment gameplay immersed us in the World War 2 experience like nothing before. Thought it’s multiplayer modes were limited, Call of Duty 2 dabbled with elements that would help inform the future of the franchise’s multiplayer experience. – Sean Finnegan
4. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Call of Duty Black Ops II introduced the Pick 10 system and Scorestreaks to multiplayer, which added a depth and customization that’s since become the multiplayer foundation of the franchise today. Not only did its campaign offer branching storylines, it set the stage for Black Ops’ shift into futuristic tech. But is also elevated Zombies as the comical yet confusing juggernaut – or should I say juggernog – we know and love today. While technically a sequel to the original Black Ops, it gave us innovation that felt fresh, continues to be memorable, and is true to the franchise. –Sydnee Goodman
3. Call of Duty: Black Ops
Call of Duty: Blacks Ops was a three-headed monster that had something for everyone. If you wanted a great single-player shooter, this was your game. Its multiplayer was strategic, its guns felt amazing to use, and the Killstreaks were on another level. Zombies once again returned to the series, and the game also introduced two of the greatest maps in Call of Duty history: Firing Range and Nuketown, maps so popular they keep coming back as fan favorites in future Black Ops games. –Bobby Amos Jr.
2. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
For many gamers, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare set a new standard for campaign design and multiplayer innovation, blowing them away, both figuratively and literally. There was a sense that while everything in its multiplayer design was new, it was nearly perfect. The weapons felt fantastic, the maps were diverse and engaging, the now-simple idea of locked killstreaks at 3, 5, and 7 rewarded you for skill. The perks and their flexibility allowed you to tailor your experience to your play style – and to this day, this is arguably the purest multiplayer and one of the best campaigns in Call of Duty history. –Bobby Amos Jr.
1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Modern Warfare 2 is the pinnacle game of the Call of Duty franchise. It expanded on the solid foundation built by its predecessor, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and set a new standard for the triple-A first-person-shooter genre. With some of the most controversial and memorable campaign moments in the franchise, a brand new cooperative mode in Spec Ops, and a top tier suite of maps for player-versus-player enthusiasts, Modern Warfare 2 kept us coming back to frag for years!
Its customizable Killstreaks and progression challenges were refined to perfection and remain a franchise mainstay. Its visual fidelity, musical score, and core gameplay were unprecedented in 2009 and still rival modern-day shooters nearly 10 years later. While the healthy argument over whether Modern Warfare or Modern Warfare 2 deserves the top stop may never fully be settled, Modern Warfare 2 was a truly groundbreaking first-person shooter experience. Its reception solidified the franchise as an entertainment staple and takes our top spot for the best Call of Duty game of all time. –CJ Gibson
What’s your favorite game in the Call of Duty series? Let us know in the comments!